Gov. Mead recommends budget reductions and proposes budget plan for current and upcoming fiscal years during press conference today

Governor Matt Mead held a press conference today to speak on the current and upcoming fiscal year budget that is seeing a significant reduction in projected revenue. "We had to prepare two budgets, we first started out with roughly a $160 million deficit...and when I see that there is going to be shortfall, I'm obligated to take action," said Mead. ​ Current budget cuts for fiscal year 2016 (which ends June 30, 2016) will be roughly around $260 million. Mead said during the press conference that around $1.8 billion will be borrowed from the Rainy Day Fund for the biennium, and a little over $200 million in statutory diversion will be utilized to start repaying the account. Some of the upcoming reductions will come from agencies that have asked for less or will be funded less than asked. The Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account is expected to be fully repaid by statutory diversion and investment income, if not repaid and in excess by around $95 million, stated Mead. No pay raises are proposed during the biennium, and the hiring freeze will continue into January, if not further. "We've seen pretty good savings from the hiring freeze, and it's important that we save where we can now," said Mead. Local governments will also be seeing a reduction in funding, "as far as big item budgets. We asked for and received last year $175 million, this time I have asked for $90 million for local governments," said Mead. Mead said that they feel pretty good on the general fund as it relates to agencies. Mead said they're looking to reduce the standard budget where possible and using the statutory diversion for one-time requests that will keep the economy going and to keep the state ready for opportunities that come. Mead recommends strategic reduction for FY 2016 in which he set aside more than $159 million, around $15 million from vacancy savings from the hiring freeze. For FY 2017-18, Mead recommended reducing the standard budget by nearly $19 million. Projected revenues were reduced by $186.5 million resulting in a revenue deficit of $159 million for FY 2016. For the FY 2017-2018 biennium, Mead was able to remove $18.7 million from standard budgets with agency identified reductions. As far as infrastructure and education, Mead recommended $37.5 million for capitol renovation out of the LRSA to repay money borrowed from the Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund, $25 million from LSRA for transportation projects (Wyoming Department of Transportation requested $63.7 million). Mead said he has a task force looking at long-term funding strategies for K-12 schools and will be supporting school facilities budget of $218.9 million using the School Capital Construction Account and transfer from the Permanent Land Fund Holding account. Community Colleges will see a decrease of $2.3 million from last biennium appropriation. Mead recommends $11.760 million (both the LSRA and college funds) for Central Wyoming Agriculture and Animal Science facility; $13.193 million for Jackson Outreach Center; $14.56 million for Northwest Community College Tech Education Center (all college funds); $11.162 million for Northwest Community College Residence Hall; $13 million (all college funds) for Laramie County Community College residence hall; and $2.9 million (all college funds) for LCCC Children's Discovery Center. For University of Wyoming, Mead recommends $6 million, $1 million recurring and $5 million one-time, and recommends $30 million out of LSRA for Engineering and Science initiatives. He recommends $8 million from LSRA to complete funding for the engineering facility. His budget also recommends $9.5 million from the LSRA to be matched to continue the work of the School of Energy Resources and the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Both the community colleges and the University of Wyoming will be seeing reductions in funding, however $8 million will be funded to UW Athletics from general funds, not state funds. The following agencies will be funded from the Rainy Day fund; $10 million to state facilities, $1 million to water initiative, $3 million for international market expansion in tourism, $90 million for local governments. Around $2.841 million in general funds will go toward grizzly bear management with the Game and Fish Department. Mead said there are opportunities in programs and agencies such as Medicaid where he recommends $9.7 million of the $23.7 million exception request, $12 million toward tobacco funds where Wyoming is projected to received $37.8 million. Mead also recommends $1.062 million in general funds effective immediately to go toward Public Defender/County District Attorneys and recommends $25,000 from the LSRA. The costs for WyoLink are $3.4 million ongoing from other funds, $5.359 million from the LSRA. This budget will slow saving, but Mead said he did not want to completely stop it. Projected general funds will come from the use of statutory diversion to the LSRA and investment income, while the Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund will continue to grow. "We do feel confident that we will be able to repay the rainy day fund," said Mead. #shortgo #news #county10 #buckrail #dally #oilcity #reboot #county17